Monday, August 31, 2009

Seeing each other without seeing double

Matthew and Jonathan have plenty of toys that are duplicates of each other.
They have two Thomas the Trains, two Percys, two Gordons, two Lightening McQueens, two school buses, two dump trucks, two ride-on inch worms, two of most any vehicle that they might fight over.
But their white cars are an exception.
Both are white, both are sports cars and they are about the same size, but the two cars are different models. Yet, it was these cars that Matthew pointed to the other day when looked up at me, his eyes bright, and said, "twins!"
Jonathan looked on with interest as Matthew repeated his revelation over and over again.
Then, less than half an hour later, Jonathan pulled out two Diego vehicles. One was a pick-up truck and one was a jeep-like vehicle, but both were yellow and both held figures of Diego and Baby Jaguar snuggled close to one another.
"Twins!" Jonathan said proudly.
Maybe it was just a coincidence.
Maybe at 2.5 years old, they don't know what the heck they are talking about.
Maybe I overreacted.
But it was one of those identical twins moments that hit me hard, right in the chest, right in the stomach, right in my heart. These two boys who look so much alike, who were born of the same egg and share the same DNA, did not relate their status to that of the replicated vehicles, differentiated only by wear and tear.
Instead, they chose vehicles that look similar at first glance, but that are, in reality, unique from each other.
Just like them.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A difference of weight

For the first time ever, Matthew's and Jonathan's weights are significantly different.
I first noticed it two weeks ago when they were recovering from colds. Both boys had preferred milk to solids while they were sick, but Matthew tended more toward the liquid diet than Jonathan.
So when they stepped on the scale after a bath, I attributed the difference to their illnesses.
Matthew weighed in at 33.5 pounds.
Jonathan was 35 pounds.
But two weeks later, the difference remains.
Part of me wondered whether I was feeding one twin too much or another too little, but then a babysitter put things into perspective: Matthew is much hyper than Jonathan, she noted as she watched them play.
And she was right.
Very right.
Matthew is spontaneous.
He moves without thinking and he moves constantly.
He rarely stops to eat, though he can't resist a sippy cup full of milk, especially when he is offered his yellow bear and a corner of the sofa with it.
Jonathan, on the other hand, contemplates things more often. He watches his twin brother and he learns from his mistakes. Then he decides whether to act. He does not waste energy; He lets his brother waste it for him.
And, boy, does he ever love peanut butter and jelly.
So, it is possible that this illness was just the beginning. That Matthew will never make up that caloric difference because he can't be bothered: he is too busy. And that future illnesses will create even greater differences until the two boys are double-digit pounds apart.
But then you never know.
Identical twins like to keep parents on their toes.
In utero, Matthew staked out his place as first-born from the beginning (or rather, from the 20-week ultrasound when we first learned two little guys were hiding out in there). He was head-down right near the cervix when we first saw him and there he stayed.
He never gave Jonathan a chance.
Jonathan was all over the place, kicking my ribs, my bladder, my pelvis.
Even after his brother was born, he wouldn't stop moving long enough to come out. He yanked his second foot away every time the doctor tried to breech extract him and took off swimming. When he finally decided to join the world 20 minutes later, he took a spontaneous pike dive, engaging fully head and foot first, and had to be removed via emergency c-section.
The boys were seven ounces apart and Jonathan was the lightweight.
I'm learning that just when I think I understand Matthew and Jonathan, that I know who they are and why they behave like they do, they pull a switch on me.
So I'm not going to worry.
Instead, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

More than twins: friends

One day several weeks ago, Jonathan took me by the hand and pulled.
"Come on, Mom," he said, leading me toward the room he shares with Matthew. "Come on. Play."
And I did.
This method of manipulation was new to Jonathan and he was thrilled that it had worked.
So, after that first incident, he started pulling me everywhere--to his room, to the basement, to the front door, to the refrigerator. His glee at his successes was irresistible, so I complied whenever possible.
Then, one day, I saw him reach for Matthew's hand.
"Come on, Matty. Jonny's bed. Play," he said.
Matthew appeared stunned for a moment and he would not take Jonathan's hand. But when his brother repeated his request, Matthew followed. Jonathan decided that was good enough. He dropped his hand to his side and simply led the way. They played for almost an hour, jumping on their beds and crashing back down in unison.
That was the day the dynamic began to change.
In the old days (like about two weeks ago), Matthew and Jonathan would go separate ways when freed from their stroller in large play areas. Jonathan, the social one, would seek out an occasional playmate. Matthew preferred to play on his own. Toward the end, when they both grew tired, they would come together and play.
That's how I knew it was almost time to go.
No more.
I first noticed it at the playground last week. After a few minutes of independence, Jonathan sought out Matthew. "Come on, Matty. Come slide," Jonathan said, starting out in the direction of his favorite slide.
Without hesitation, Matthew followed.
And for the rest of our time there, Jonathan led the way.
The same thing happened at the YMCA toddler pool yesterday.
"Come on, Matty. Jump in water."
"Come on Matty. Eat Goldfish (the crackers, not the real thing)."
"Come on. Matty. Swim."
And again at the Children's Museum today.
"Come on, Matty. Tunnel."
"Come on, Matty. Roll balls."
"Come on, Matty. Sand."
Where Jonathan went, Matthew followed and he followed willingly.
I'm sure the day will come (soon) when Matthew tires of being the follower and the two struggle over who gets to lead. But that's okay. The point--the thing that makes me so happy inside--is that Matthew and Jonathan find each other to be worthy playmates outside of the home when there are so many other kids to choose from.
They are become far more than brothers.
Like their older brother and sister who are often inseparable, they are becoming friends.